What’s in Shaving Cream?

What's in Shaving Cream?

When reading ingredient labels do you ever wonder what ingredients are, or why it’s there?

The average adult in the U.S. will shave 14,000 times in their life. That’s roughly a shave every other day, for 75 years. Using 400 cans of shaving cream products per person.

Shaving products as a category include tools, razors, soaps, gels, foams, and creams. It’s the pressurized cans of shaving cream that account for the majority of purchases in this category. Considered an everyday household item, most shoppers include shaving cream and razors in the same category as soap and shampoo—a daily necessity.

What’s in shaving cream that makes it so effective?

In most formulations, 80% of shaving cream is water. The remaining 20% of the ingredients work to create the lather, bind the ingredients, soften the skin, preserve the product, and propel the ingredients out of the can.

When reading ingredient labels, do you ever wonder what each ingredient name means, or why they are in there? Every ingredient in a formulation has a function, some have a few jobs. To help get a more clear picture of what’s included in shaving cream formulations, the functions of each and some common names you’ll find—I broke the ingredients into eight primary functions:

  1. Solvents dissolve the ingredients in the formulation. Water is known as the universal solvent.
    • Common solvent ingredients used in shaving cream: water
  2. Surfactants are compounds that work as detergents, foaming agents, and dispersants. One end of the molecule clings to dirt and oil. The other end of the molecule attracts water.
  3. Emollients soften the skin, making hairs stand up and allow the razor to glide across the skin.
    • Common emollient ingredients used in shaving: glycerin
  4. Emulsifiers act as a wetting agent, holding water on the skin. They are also used to thicken and bind ingredients.
  5. Skin Soothers calm irritated skin.
  6. Scents and colors add the fragrance and color to the product.
    • Common scent ingredients used in shaving cream: essential oils, parfum, fragrance.
  7. Preservatives are added to prevent bacterial growth. They work as an antiseptic and extend the shelf life of the product.
  8. Propellants help squirt the liquid out of the can and enhances the formation of the foam.

Some ingredients play multiple roles, like an emollient that may add a nice scent. A combination of ingredients can sometimes account for traits that we depend on, like the combination of glycerin + lanoline + stearic acid that gives shaving cream it’s velvety, foamy texture.

Let’s decode some popular shaving cream products that have been reviewed and rated by GoodGuide’s science team:

Decode ingredient label Miessence shaving gel

What’s in Miessence Shaving Gel?

Decode ingredient label Aveeno Shave Gel

What’s in Aveeno Shave Gel?

Decode ingredient label Gillete Shave Gel

What’s in Gilette Shaving Gel for Women?

Our science team has rated over 100 shaving cream products – view them here.

About GoodGuide Team

GoodGuide's mission is to provide consumers with the information they need to make better shopping decisions. The team behind creating this blog content includes GoodGuide's science and product teams, industry experts, and guest bloggers.
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